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The London Orchestra as a ‘Prestige’ Economy: Tips for Success in the Music Profession

Event information

START DATE 1 March 2016
START TIME 06:15pm

Concert Room, Grove B building, Middlesex University, London, NW4 4BT

UCL PhD researcher and professional bassoon player Francesca Carpos in discussion with Chris Dromey

As a professional bassoon player in London, Francesca Carpos found herself undertaking a wide variety of work such as orchestral playing, chamber music, West End shows, education projects, examining, and instrumental teaching. Having worked as a professional musician for over thirty years, she began to consider: 'What do I know that would be useful for an aspiring musician to know?'

There is only so much work that can go around, competition between self-employed musicians is inevitable, and musicians need to consider 'what you need to do to get ahead'. She began to question whether musicians perceive 'prestige-seeking' behaviour as necessary in order to gain work and therefore money.

A central feature of this study is consideration of the possible contribution of the concept of a 'Prestige Economy' (Bascom and Herskovits, 1948; English, 2005; Blackmore and Kandiko, 2011), as a framework for illuminating perceptions of musicians. Ways of understanding the nature of an individual's interaction with others in the organisational setting of an orchestra, is explored through the lens of this theory. The model of a prestige economy may allow insight into the vulnerabilities, inequalities and tensions of musical life.

Here she considers how she can share her experiences as a professional bassoonist, in order for students to learn how to fit socially and musically into their musical world; to negotiate future employment, and realise their aspirations as professional musicians.

Francesca Carpos

Francesca Carpos is a professional bassoonist and sociologist currently completing her doctoral thesis on The London Orchestra as a Prestige Economy at University College, London. As a musician, she enjoys a wide-ranging portfolio career, including orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic, English Sinfonia, Bournemouth and Ulster, and performance for film, popular music and West End theatre.

Particularly interested in 'interactionist' traditions, Francesca has delivered several papers, including conferences on Musicians in the Community: Musicianship in Action (University College London) and Classical Music as Contemporary Socio-cultural Practice (King's College London). She is a Fellow of both the Higher Education Academy and Royal Society of Arts, and a Governor of the Royal Society of Musicians.

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